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Atty. Gen. Holder Says He Hopes FBI Director Confirmed Way Before Sept.

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The hunt for a new FBI director — and the Senate confirmation —  will hopefully be completed way before Robert Mueller III retires Sept. 4, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. said Tuesday.

“The goal is to have somebody nominated and ready to go,” Holder told reporters, according to USA Today. “We have to move relatively soon.”

“Bob is a hard person to replace,” Holder said of Mueller, according to USA Today. In September, he will have served out his 10-year term.

The names of a number of candidates have surfaced including Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; ex-FBI agent Mike Mason, who heads of security at Verizon; ex-deputy attorney general James Comey; Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole, who was the number two person at the FBI; Ken Wainstein, who oversaw the Justice Department’s National Security Division; former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton and N.Y. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

For a period of time, U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald appeared to be on the very short list. But his chances — at least for a while — were damaged when he showed too much swagger publicly when announcing the indictment of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Mike Mason/fbi photo

To boot, the trial ended up being an embarrassment to Fitzgerald and his office. The jury only convicted Blagojevich of 1 of 24 counts — lying to the FBI.

The retrial could help his standing in the FBI director race if the outcome is more favorable to his office. Jury selection in downtown Chicago is currently underway.

The FBI Agents Association has endorsed Mike Mason. The endorsement could be helpful, but it only carries so much weight. He would become the first African American FBI director.

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

Sen.  Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)  has been pushing N.Y.  Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who certainly has the resume. But Kelly has clashed repeatedly with the FBI over the years, and some folks in Washington might try to undermine his chances. Simply put:  There are plenty agents who hate him.

Plus,  he will be 70 in September.  It’s a 10-year appointment. Then again, nothing says he would have to serve out his full term.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Feds Indict 4 in Mumbai Attacks Including 2 With Links to Pakistan Security

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sometimes friends aren’t always real friends.

The investigative website ProPublica reports that the feds in Chicago on Monday indicted four suspected masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Two of those folks have been linked to Pakistan’s security forces, who supposed to be helping out the U.S. in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

“The indictment filed Monday never mentions the Pakistani security forces or their alleged role in the attacks,” ProPublica wrote. “But it represents a major development in a secretive, diplomatically sensitive prosecution set for trial next month, because Pakistan is considered a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.”

To read full story click here.

Authorities Nab Colo. Mall Bomber

Justice Dept. Drops Leak Probe into Warrantless Wiretaps That Earned NY Times a Pulitzer

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sometimes leak investigation fade into the sunset, never to be heard again.

That appears to be the case with the Justice Department, which has quietly dropped the  criminal investigation into a lawyer who admitted leaking information about President George W. Bush’s top-secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times. The Times ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize with the help of that disclosure, according to Josh Gerstein of Politico.

“The decision not to prosecute former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be charged for the disclosures that led to the Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story in December 2005 revealing that, after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush ordered the interception of certain phone calls and email messages into and out of the U.S. without a warrant — a move many lawyers contend violated the 1978 law governing intelligence-related wiretaps,” Gerstein wrote.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Turned Congressman Described as Hotheaded Agent in New Yorker Piece

Rep. Michael Grimm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Was New York Congressman Michael Grimm a hotheaded FBI agent with a chip on his shoulder?

That’s apparently the conclusion of an article in the latest edition of the New Yorker, according to the Staten Island Advance newspaper. Grimm, a former FBI agent, represents, Staten Island. He is a Republican.

“The 10-page story has unearthed a decade-old allegation that Grimm, during his days as an FBI agent, abused his authority and waved his gun during a nightclub dust-up with the husband of a woman he was dating,” the Staten Island Advance wrote.

The article quotes unnamed FBI colleagues. Some applauded him for his undercover work and others said they were bothered that he used his FBI career as a political springboard, the Staten Island reported.

The magazine piece includes agent Lawrence Ferazani, who said, “I wouldn’t question his integrity,” and “he never, ever, challenged the rules,” according to the Staten Island Advance.

Another agent called Grimm “a very good undercover” with a “big ego.” A former agent said, “He was not thought of very highly.”

On his Congressional website, here’s how he describes part of his career:

“It was during his tenure with the Fraud Squad that Michael started his undercover career becoming the first FBI Agent to successfully infiltrate Wall Street. Posing as a hedge fund manager during Operation Wooden Nickel, arguably one of the most successful White Collar undercover investigations in the history of the FBI, Michael obtained evidence against more than 50 individuals committing frauds spanning the spectrum from stock manipulation and currency scams to money laundering. After establishing a reputation as a reliable, “go-to” undercover agent, Michael was enlisted to investigate corrupt politicians in New Jersey, corrupt police officers in Florida, and various other cases. Michael has relentlessly fought corruption and served our country proudly.”

Madoff’s Family Was Unaware of Fraud, Book Concludes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A new book penned by New York Times senior financial writer Diana B. Henriques concludes that swindler Bernie Madoff’s immediate family was unaware of the fraud he was perpetrating.

A review in the New York Times on the book “Wizard of Lies” says of Madoff’s crimes:

“In some ways it was highly sophisticated (software that duplicated the screens of other financial software and created thousands of precisely faked statements); in other ways, it was extremely crude. (Some of his claims were often ludicrous to experts.) We also learn that Mr. Madoff was dishonest even as early as the 1960s.”

The review by Charles Ferguson calls the book “frequently compelling but ultimately disappointing.”

To read more click here.

It’s an Oprah World We Live in; Prospective Blago Juror Wants to Attend Taping of Oprah Show


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Let’s face it: There are few things in life more important than Oprah — at least in some circles.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a prospective juror in the trial of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said she didn’t want the trial to ruin her chance to attend a taping of the Oprah Show, which is in its final season. The final show will air May 25.

She said she has four tickets to attend the May 10 taping. The whole thing came up during the second day of jury selection on Monday.

The Sun-Times reported that U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago said he could reschedule the trial that day, but added: “That seems a little over the top.”

“It’s the last year, judge,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said smiling, according to the Sun-Times.

Interestingly, the paper reported that the judge seemed open to a defense lawyer’s suggestion court be scheduled that day to accommodate the juror. No decision was made.

“Everybody here knows that this juror will survive” if she doesn’t make it to the show, Zagel said, according to the paper.

The paper reported that the juror is Hispanic, is a onetime domestic violence counselor at Mujeres Latinas En Accion, is a mother and a current member of AFSCME Local 106.

Blagojevich is on trial for the second time. In his first trial, he was convicted of 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI. The jury deadlocked on the remaining counts.

Atty. Gen. Holder Delivers Uplifting, Cheerleader-like Speech to the Troops

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sometimes the troops need an uplifting, cheerleader-like speech.

And that’s what Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. — who has sometimes been the Republicans’ favorite pinata — delivered Monday to a crowd of more than 100 employees at the Great Hall at the Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

“I have been privileged to serve this Department, I have worked alongside – and learned from – some of the world’s most talented and dedicated lawyers, law enforcement officials, and public servants. Every day, you and your colleagues – a team that’s now more than 114,000 members strong – carry out your important jobs with the simple, but essential, goals of protecting and improving lives – and pursuing justice in every case, every circumstance, and every community.”

“Like you, I love this Department. And, like you, I am proud – not only to serve it, but also to champion its work.”

“Just over two years ago, together, we launched a new chapter in the Department’s extraordinary history. And I was honored that – on that February day – so many of you welcomed me home.

“That day, as I stood before you – and swore the oath of office for the last job I will ever hold here – I laid out three priorities that would guide our work. First, and most importantly, I promised that the Department’s top priority – and our chief responsibility – would be protecting the security, rights, and interests of the American people.

“I also pledged to reinvigorate the Department’s traditional missions and breathe new life into important areas that had been overlooked in recent years.

“Finally, I promised to heal the Department – by rebuilding morale and restoring credibility. As a young lawyer, I had seen my first boss and one of my personal heroes – Attorney General Edward Levi – do just that in the wake of the Watergate scandal.”

Read more »